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Nichelodeon - Incidenti - Lo Schianto CD (album) cover





4.24 | 52 ratings

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4 stars Delighted to finally be getting to this, the latest from Italy's NichelOdeon (2021). Vocal maestro-frontman Claudio Milano reached out to me here almost a year ago about this album, and I'm so grateful they did. I was already going to listen, yet the answer as to when, as is often the case, was unknown. And even if I go backward, I'm excited to do so. Unmentioned below, I would say this should appeal, to certain degrees, to fans of Univers Zero, Slapp Happy and Art Zoyd.

We are thrown into Drama Italiana [Is that good grammar anyhow? haha] via the opener "Non Esistono", the soprano-capable vocals of Milano met with dark strings and, later, eerie and distorted electronic tones. Chilling track to start us off. Static frizzles as we pick up apparent far-off transmissions. The bass from Andrea Grumelli sounds off the next, "How Hard Tune!" Here vocals overlap with different timbres as the full ensemble lightly swings underneath. This is the sort of material that I would hope fans of, say, Serj Tankian (of System of a Down) would be happy to discover. Nearly percussion-less, the effect is striking and poignant. Rhythmic vocalizations at the start of "Variations on the Jargon King" evoked Ruins' own drummer-vocalist Tatsuya Yoshida. Here, Mimmo Frioli has a proper introduction via the drums, entering a mostly bleak musical landscape. In its latter half, this is what it's really all about. Spacy, devilish synths clash with relentless guitar (Stefano Ferrian); the groove remains.

"Il barbiere degli occhi" is like a dark waltz. A lot of emotion is explored across its 7+ minutes, from apparent melancholy to sweet nostalgia. What's really striking about much of this album, well displayed here, is the stark instrumentation. I feel it's a sign of extreme purpose and care. It's well arranged, with a wide variety of instrumentation heard as the piece breathes, ebbing and flowing. Bold juxtaposition once more, "Con dedica" is just Milano and keys. Timpani, perhaps, appears to be there, but I have a feeling this deep pulse on occasion is merely the lowest notes from the 88s. As a piece of the whole, great track. Distorted vocals clash--sometimes with an alien waver, otherwise choppy and broken--underlaid with what sounds like pipe organ on "Senza ritorno". Its effectiveness when compared to "Con dedica" is less of note to my ears.

We seem to turn the page with a piano ballad, "La scatola". And this piano falls away, replaced by a swirl of reeds (all performed by Evaristo Casonato). Classical then meets modernity, as reverberating percussion marches in approaching minute 2. Erica Scherl has a beautiful performance on the violin here. Even the moments of sparseness are full, and full of life. Definitely pay attention as you approach minute 4. This track is one of the most striking moments on the album. "L'ultima sigaretta - Fantasmi ad Argun" is certainly maximal (and therefore a challenging listen)... Clear already, this is one of those albums, and certainly not despite its appearances (huge production, as you can see), where you will want to devote your attention to all of its nuances. What I assume to be Pt.2, "Fantasmi ad Argun" features that same level of classic Horror as the beginning of the album. Some of the most provocative moments are from female musicians, here the zither (of all instruments) performed by Paola Tagliaferro. Terrific. And Milano likewise stretches himself to the max on this'n, delving down into throat singing.

We enter a dream-like state on "Idiota - Autoritratto (Tadzio's Death)". And just like many dreams, it's simultaneously wondrous and mysterious (or maybe 'mystifying' is a better word). We then get the return of Frioli on drums with "Ho Gettato mio Figlio da una Rupe perche non Somigliava a Fabrizio Corona", effectively contrapuntal in its irregularity to the vocals. This is our first of two mini-epics, as I'd call it, this one lasting 12 minutes. This is more or less the sort of feeling that I look for from Avant-Prog. We are thrown to and fro here, from a seemingly mocking children's song to a hilariously irreverent folk tune. The latter (lasting for longer than expected) was certainly a shock, and for the better! As the folk number falls away, the song slips into what I can only describe as 'nightmare' [a very specific term used to describe a female horse you might encounter after dusk /s], achieved by a great variety of voices--some tortured and anguished, others taunting my ignorant, English-speaking ears haha--constantly overlapping one another. Feels like a false equivalence perhaps, but this maybe reminded me of maudlin of the Well(?); I feel I'm once more slightly off base.

The spook continues with "Sabbia scura", though it eases slightly in the middle with an increase in vocals. There's an interesting whipping sound, if I can try to describe it, the track otherwise being sans-percussion. On the minute-long track "Del mondo gli occhi (New Moses)", we get one of our few vocal features, Coucou Selavy, interestingly attributed in the liner notes as 'one thousand voices/theatre'. Beautiful and operatic. This acts pretty well as an introduction then to "Nyama (Gettarsi oltre)", itself introduced with some of the best vocal performances, in my opinion, and bombastic instrumentation comes in harsh attacks. This is our second so-called mini-epic at just over 10 minutes. Interestingly, perhaps, some of the 'group vocals' remind me of the specific arrangement style of one of my favorites, Native Construct. Guitar enters, reminding me of "Mood For a Day" off Yes's Fragile. Then we get some spanky sax! We get another vocal feature, but I wasn't sure who it was. Beautiful, regardless. Great duet. It sort of lost me in the second half: its sparseness [both in the song and the album as a whole], sharing in surprise(?) maximalism, often did it for me (but not so much here). "La Montagna e il Trono" certainly made it all aright to me. Vocals are great, and we get another violin performance, met with a sort of wild scurrying from the other underlying instruments. And finally we have "Out Let - Viae di (s)Phjga)". We get our final statement here from guitarist Stefano Ferrian, and a fantastic way to go out. The orchestration as well was notable. Sort of a general effect found in the work of John Zorn or Trey Spruance (the quieter moments from his Secret Chiefs 3 project came to mind).

Overall, a striking release, highly cohesive in feeling and in its quality from track to track. Can't wait for the next one. Cheers!

DangHeck | 4/5 |


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